Salary paid to official to be recovered from officials’ pocket

A few officials of the Urban Development Department (UDD) and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will now have to cough up around Rs. 2.8 lakh together from their pocket for “conscious and blatant violation” of laws in appointing a retired officer on contract.

The Karnataka High Court in its recent order directed the State and the BBMP to recover the salary, paid for about 10 months to the officer appointed on contract, from the officials concerned who were “literate and aware of the rules” for making such an appointment knowing well that it was illegal.

C. Thyagaraj was appointed Adviser to the BBMP Commissioner on contract for a period of one year with effect from October 1, 2012 on a salary of about Rs. 28,000 a month.

He was a Deputy Commissioner in the BBMP and had retired from service the previous day, September 30, 2012.

A public interest litigation (PIIL) petition, filed by one B. Shivakumar, had questioned the appointment claiming that it was made in violation of Rule 20 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Rules.

It was contended that Mr. Thyagaraj’s appointment was contrary to the decision of the State government in not appointing a retired employee on contract.

Initially though the government and the BBMP justified appointment, at a later stage of the arguments they conceded that appointment was “neither legal nor in accordance with the rule”.

Sudden termination

When the PIL was pending, the BBMP suddenly terminated his appointment from July 17, 2013 and told the court that the petition would not survive for consideration as the appointment no more existed.

However, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice A.S. Bopanna, found that it was a case of “conscious violation of the rules by all respondents and it being at the cost of public fund of the BBMP.”

If such violations, the Bench said, were “permitted or connived at even as the statutory authorities required to act in accordance with law consciously overturn or circumvent the express legal provision, respect for the rule of law and the rule of law itself would necessarily be undermined.”

‘Cannot be closed’

Hence, the Bench said that issue raised in the PIL could not be closed with the prospective cancellation of the illegal appointment as such a decision would not be a “complete redressal,” and the State government and the BBMP should take further action for “conscious and blatant violation of rules in appointment Mr. Thyagaraj after his retirement.”

With these observations, the Division Bench asked the government to identify the officers and persons concerned who were responsible for making the illegal appointment, and recover the salary, paid to Mr. Thyagaraj till his appointment was terminated, from them within three months.

RELATED NEWS

BBMP officials accused of pocketing funds August 7, 2013

More In: Bengaluru